It seems you can’t go anywhere this summer without hearing “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke’s horrifyingly catchy, extremely questionable new single. The song has courted controversy on several fronts, from its original unrated music video, which features a bunch of confused looking naked models, to its misogynistic lyrics. Several bloggers and journalists have derided Thicke for singing a song with such “rapey” lyrics as “you’re an animal, baby… I know you want it… I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two…” etc. Despite this, Thicke has been making the rounds on various morning talk shows where hosts laud the song and then awkwardly try to address its inappropriate lyrics.
The latest incident occurred last week when Thicke performed on the Today Show and tried to defend his song as a “feminist movement” (no, really) because it portrays men and women as equals and “it doesn’t matter whether you’re a good girl or a bad girl.” And therein lies the problem. By using the terms “good girl” versus “bad girl,” Thicke is dividing female sexuality into two opposite camps: the virgin and the slut, the Madonna and the whore, and so on. One of the biggest issues that third wave feminism has fought against is lumping women’s sexuality into a binary and not allowing them true freedom of sexual expression. When you think about it, what makes a woman a “bad girl”? Does she have to be willing to sleep with anyone, anywhere, any time, or have a certain number of sexual partners under her belt before she can wear the “bad girl” title? Alternatively, when Robin Thicke talks about his wife (whom he somehow uses as a defense for his lyrics) is she a “good girl” for being with only one man since she was a teenager?
As always, there is no straight answer because these titles don’t reflect real life. Sexuality happens on a wide spectrum. I’m sure that most women have experienced various phases of monogamy, casual sex, and celibacy because sexuality does not exist in a vacuum. It is fluid, and we all have a right to express our sexuality in whatever matter pleases us. What we really need is for artists like Robin Thicke to stop assuming that a woman who rebuffs a man’s advances is just playing hard to get so that she can keep up a “good girl” image, and learn to accept that even if a woman does “want it,” she doesn’t necessarily want it from him.